Thursday, October 29, 2009

Meet: KittyKnitDesigns

Howdy all! Jaclyn here, from Jaclyn 1423. This is my first post for the INCrowdteam blog ((dances)) so I hope to get it all down right. These profiles of wonderful Indiana Etisians will be appearing Tuesday evenings, so be sure to check back weekly to meet a new face.

Today: Susan Danner, of KittyKnitDesigns!

Where were you born and raised? The Heartland: Muncie, Ind.

Where are you now, and what led you there? Back home again in Muncie, Ind. In 1969 I graduated from Ball State University with a degree in science. From 1969 through 1973, I lived in Bloomington, Ind., with my then-husband and daughter while he completed his degree in optometry. While in Bloomington, I worked as a service representative for Indiana Bell Telephone Company. After my ex-husband graduated, we moved to Shelbyville, Ind., where he purchased an optometry practice. We were divorced in 1976, and my daughter and I moved first to Muncie, then to Ohio where I taught science and physics. We moved back to Muncie again, and I continued to teach science at the middle school level. When our school system had a reduction in force, I was one of the teachers who was let go. I returned to Ball State and obtained a second undergraduate degree -- this time in Management Informations Systems. I stayed on at Ball State and earned my master's degree in Computer Programming and Statistics. I graduated on a Friday and began teaching at Ball State on the following Monday.

After teaching at Ball State for several years, I left to pursue a doctorate's in Management Information Systems at the University of Georgia, but I hated living so far away from my family. I returned to Muncie and held several positions: financial Analyst for Ball State, Director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, and executive director of the YWCA. Then I made another really big change: A friend owned a bookstore and wanted to sell it. I bought the store in 1995. One of my booksellers asked if she could start a knitting group and, of course, I said yes. The knitting group grew and grew, and eventually we added a knitting nook to our store. After many fun years, I closed the store in June 2008 and retired and have been knitting like mad ever since.

What’s the origin of your shop’s name? I love cats. I have six cats at home, and we had a store cat that was very famous and much beloved by all. When he died, his obituary was in our newspaper. My daughter came up with the name, KittyKnitDesigns, combining my love of knitting and my love of cats.

What types of creations do you sell in for your Etsy shop? My Etsy shop is filled with knitted items ranging from felted flowers to purses to gloves to hats to custom pet sweaters. I specialize in cute!

What's your educational background, as it relates to your work? My educational background is in science, computer programming and statistics. I can’t say that it relates to my knitting in any way except that I enjoy creating items and working with intarsia patterns.

What’s your real-world job? I am retired -- which means I am busier than ever.

Does creating stuff run in the family? Creating items definitely runs in the family. My great-grandmother crocheted, and she did not use a pattern. She taught me to crochet by looking at an item and figuring out how to replicate it. Both of my grandmothers did embroidery work, cutwork, quilting and sewing. My mother knits and did sewing. My daughter sews and makes many crafts. Now, the men in our family? Not so much.

Were you taught things on purpose or by osmosis from prior generations? Crocheting I was taught how to do by my great-grandmother. My mother helped me with my sewing. I learned how to knit by osmosis.

How'd you get started creating? I really can’t remember not doing crafts, sewing, and knitting. I think I was born creative.

What's your muse, or what turns that little creative light inside you on? If I see a design that I like, I will try to adapt it to my knitting. Sometimes I will see an item and think, "I can do that better.” Then I’ll work on customizing the design to my wants and needs.

If you had to pick one fiber or yarn to describe your personality, what would it be, and why? Bamboo: Soft, but durable.

How long ago was the bubblegum bubble-blowing contest you mention in your shop bio? That was about 15 years ago, but I am still claiming the title! I belong to Altrusa Club of Muncie, which is a service club for professional women. At one of our meetings, we had a “summer fun” day. The executive director of the Muncie Symphony and I were the two finalists in the bubblegum bubble-blowing contest, and I won. It was a really fun time to let our hair down and just have fun.

What's your favorite thing about selling on Etsy? I really love the people that Etsy reaches and the diversity of items available. So many nice people to meet and so many neat things to buy!

What are your five favorite Etsy shops?

1) soaps
2) nyjolejewellery
3) sarahmaloney

4) Woodland Miniatures
5) BeachGlassMemories

Tell us some of your own favorite pieces, from your shop and work.

Bunny Hat and Mitten Set (pictured) – Knit from soft white yarn with a rolled brim with perky white and pink ears and an embroidered nose and mouth. Mittens are white with a pink paw print palm. I just really wanted to design a cute hat and mitten set for a cute little tyke. Bunny Hat and Mittens Set

Orchard Fingerless Gloves – Intarsia is another technique that really intrigues me. You can get such fabulous designs with a bit of hard work and patience. I have made several intarsia items and am amazed at what is capable of being produced. Orchard Fingerless Gloves

Where else can we find you on the internet?

Anything else to brag on? Well, it may seem unusual for an artist, but I am very proud to have co-authored a technical book about relational databases in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, the book is very out-of-date and now out-of-print. I’m also very proud to host a weekly knitting group that has met for eight years. Our oldest member is 94 and the youngest is 25.

Last question: if you HAD to pick between knitting and crochet, which would it be? Without any hesitation – knitting!

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